Lark, Nick Elmi’s new restaurant in Bala Cynwyd, opens



In addition, a new negroni bar at Royal Boucherie and the Refectory reopen on the Main Line.

Alouette at Bala Cynwyd | Photo by Neal Santos

Back when I started this column – when I was pitching it as a way to sum up the news of the week at a time when restaurant news was almost all bad – there was an honest (and not insignificant) fear. ) that there would not really be quite news to fill something like this every week.

My God, how things have changed.

This week we’ve got everything from a new restaurant opened by one of the biggest names on the scene, a Philly legend who’s going to wow them in New York City, and where to go to eat eight pounds of seafood in one. single session, alien abductions (with cocktails), death conversations, and the candy-coated Halloween makeover at the Fashion District of Philadelphia. And I’m not even including the news of Michael Solomonov and Jen Carrol rappelling along a downtown Skyscraper, because there is simply no room.

So let’s go, okay? There’s a lot to cover this week, and I think we’ll start with …

Getting high at Bala Cynwyd

Nick Elmi (Laurel, ITV) and Fia Berisha (ex of Elements and Mistral) double the stakes on the Main Line with the opening of Lark at the Ironworks of Bala Cynwyd.

Last March, Elmi and Berisha (partners of BE Hospitality) opened the kitchen on the landing at the Pencoyd Landing Steel Plant – right by the river, across from Manayunk. Landing was an all-day cafe concept, offering coffee and breakfast sandwiches, toast and pastries, fried chicken, prosciutto on toast, and grilled cheese with caviar.

The dining room at Lark | Photo by Neal Santos

Lark is billed as the Landing’s “sister restaurant”. Located at 7e Floor of the same building, with a rooftop dining area, patio seating, and treetop river views, Lark opened on weekends with a coastal Mediterranean menu and minimalist vibe. We’re talking about artisanal pasta and lots of seafood, eggs stuffed with sea urchins with caviar, scallops with guanciale vinaigrette and grilled ribs with bone marrow butter and black pepper.

So high end, yes. And with a view. There are local craft cocktails and a well-researched wine list with many small producers, plenty of seating options, and event spaces. Currently, Lark is open Wednesday through Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with days, extended hours, private lunches, and a happy hour program in the works.

Oh, and hey. Speaking of Nick Elmi…

Happy Hour (and Negronis) at the Royal Boucherie

I loved Royal Boucherie at the time. Not all about that, sure, but it was one of those places that grew on top of me as I found myself there night after night – sitting by the window or at the bar, falling back on it as an option. heartwarming and familiar during a series of particularly bad review meetings and dinners a few years ago.

Anyway, at the time? Royal Boucherie had Nick Elmi written all over the place. He had opened it with his partners Stephen Simons and David Frank (Royal Tavern, Khyber Pass, Royal Sushi Izakaya among others) but, earlier this year, he bailed out and handed the kitchen over to chef Matt Buehler so he could focus on Laurel (which is open now), ITV (which is not) and his two new projects at Bala Cynwyd (see above).

Buehler and his team made their Royal Boucherie. It’s not quite so idiosyncratically French anymore, it’s a bit uncluttered now but still a neighborhood hangout. Namely, the bar team is reviewing its concept of a summer Spritzer Bar and transforming it into an autumn / winter Negroni Bar. And it works like this: pick a gin, pick an amaro, pick a tonic, then sit back and watch the tender stir your personalized Negroni. There are different options for each step of the process. Do you like Aviation and Aperol with a Cocchi kicker? They can do it. Hendricks, Fernet and Lillet Blanca? It’s cool too. I haven’t done the math (because I’m lazy), but there are a lot of potential options. So go crazy, kids. The world as it is outside? We might as well stay drunk all the time, right?

Speaking of which, Royal Boucherie also relaunched its happy hour program last week: $ 5 drafts, $ 6 house wine, $ 10 craft cocktails, as well as snacks like a $ 12 charcuterie board, a $ 8 macaroni gratin and $ 10 steak tartare, to name a few. some.

Plus, starting this week, the joint is adding dinner service on Tuesday – meaning they’re now operational Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Watch this place …

The refectory reopens

So here is a strange little story of a pandemic.

In August 2019, Villanova announced that a chic new restaurant would open on campus. The dining hall at 862 Lancaster Avenue was that restaurant.

It opened in the fall of 2019 under Greg Dodge and Zavino Hospitality Group (Zavino, Tredici Enoteca), and it was a big place – 200 places, easy. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long because, like everything else in this industry, it stopped when COVID hit.

During the shutdown, ZHG had their own issues to deal with and they withdrew from the deal with Villanova – never really having a chance to prove whether a place as large as the dining hall could function on campus. Now, however, a new team is looking to make it work. Ken Kearns (from 118 North to Wayne), Chris Perella (from Ardmore Music Hall and 118 North), conductor Biff Gottehrer (from Ripplewood to Ardmore, Music Hall AND 118 North), as well as GM Steve Khuu (ex d ‘Enoteca) are trying, and under their command, the new (ish) refectory will open today.

So what do they have under the hood? Well, for starters, Michael Murray and Gio Flores in the kitchen do a bit of everything – mushroom soup, shrimp cocktails, homemade pasta and flatbreads, blackened mahi-mahi, fish and chips and roast chicken with salsa verde and roasted carrots. There are handcrafted cocktails at the bar, lunch from November 1stst and a brunch service scheduled for mid-November, and you can check all the details to the right here. The dinner service is operational from tonight and will run from Monday to Saturday.

Time for some leftovers, I think.


Pine forest increases the stake with two new offers. First up, there’s “The Ocean” – a huge bowl of seafood that offers seven pounds of sea creatures you can eat. We’re talking about a pound each of clams and mussels, three soft-shell crabs, a pound and a half of snow crab, another pound and a half of sleeper legs, two cobs of corn and butter. spiked to go with it. Want to oversize this? That’s great. How about adding an extra pound of king crab legs, just for the fun of it? And to top it all off, Pinefish has also added three new cocktails to its bar menu, designed by Le from Hop Sing Laundromat.

The ocean will set you back $ 130 ($ 170 with that extra pound of spider crabs). The menu says it’s supposed to serve two, but you know what? I think you can bring this thing down on your own.

You can do it, my friend. I believe in you.

Wonderspaces in Philly

Meanwhile, in the Fashion District of Philadelphia (27 North 11th Street), there’s this: Wonderspaces Philadelphia, a sort of ever-changing art exhibit facility that occupies around 20,000 square feet with multiple interactive exhibits, added a bar. Which, honestly, I think he needs it because some of the stuff they have out there might require a drink (or three).

As there is the VR movie called “Dinner Party” which is all about the 1960s UFO kidnapping case of Betty and Barney Hill seen from both points of view – that you will experience the inside of your virtual reality headset. And Candy Chang’s “Before I Die,” which is (and I’m quoting here) “a global participatory public art project that reinvents our relationship with death and with each other in the public realm”.

Sounds… funny?

But hey, Wonderspaces is also reopening its bar and throwing a bunch of signature cocktails to go with it. And if anything is going to make the VR exploration of a 1960s alien abduction more palatable, it’s going to be fortified with Faber gin and dragon fruit juice. Or so I hope.

Speaking of Fashion District Philadelphia, they still have Candytopia run there (on its last expansion until early January), and the place has now been revamped for Halloween. This means inflatable marshmallows, candy scarecrow, corn stalks filled with candy corn on the cob, spider webs, candy pumpkins, regular pumpkins, classic Halloween candy, and cigarette butt cannons. of pork loaded with orange and black confetti. (And no, I also don’t know what a ‘pig ass cannon’ is, but I kinda want to know, don’t I?)

So if you’re interested in what’s probably the closest thing you’ll ever find to visiting Wonka’s Workshop without the help of some really powerful hallucinogens, this should absolutely be your jam. And if you can’t attend the Halloween festivities (October 28-31), they promise there will be another holiday makeover as Christmas approaches.

Finally this week, there’s this: It looks like the South Philly Barbacoa team is heading for a three-day pop-up at Rockefeller Center at the end of the month. From 29 to 31, they will bring their award-winning barbacoa to the Big Apple before Dia de los Muertos on November 1.

Unless you’re planning on spending Halloween in Midtown Manhattan this year, there’s really no way it’s going to come in handy for any of you reading this. But I just like the idea that when New York City needed tacos, they called Philly to help them.

And I love it even more that at the end of their three days in the big city, the South Philly Barbacoa team is coming back to us.

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